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Services as Experience Goods: An Empirical Examination of Consumer Learning in Automobile Insurance

  • Mark Israel
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    Theoretical work on experience goods sets out three empirical questions. How accurate is information at initial purchase? How rapidly do consumers learn from product experiences? And how much impact does learning have on purchase decisions? I answer these questions for the case of automobile insurance, using a panel of 18,595 consumers from one firm. My principal findings are: patterns of consumer departures following claims point to learning; consumers enter the firm overly optimistic about its quality and are generally disappointed by experience; and the impact of learning is mitigated by the slow arrival of claims and the development of lock-in.

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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/000282805775014335
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aer/data/dec05_data_20030751.zip
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    Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

    Volume (Year): 95 (2005)
    Issue (Month): 5 (December)
    Pages: 1444-1463

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    Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:95:y:2005:i:5:p:1444-1463
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282805775014335
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    1. Carl Shapiro, 1982. "Consumer Information, Product Quality, and Seller Reputation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(1), pages 20-35, Spring.
    2. Paul L. Joskow, 1973. "Cartels, Competition and Regulation in the Property-Liability Insurance Industry," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 4(2), pages 375-427, Autumn.
    3. Mark Israel, 2005. "Tenure Dependence in Consumer-Firm Relationships: An Empirical Analysis of Consumer Departures from Automobile Insurance Firms," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(1), pages 165-192, Spring.
    4. Daniel A. Ackerberg, 2003. "Advertising, learning, and consumer choice in experience good markets: an empirical examination," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(3), pages 1007-1040, 08.
    5. Horstmann, Ignatius J & MacDonald, Glenn M, 1994. "When Is Advertising a Signal of Product Quality?," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 3(3), pages 561-84, Fall.
    6. Tülin Erdem & Michael P. Keane, 1996. "Decision-Making Under Uncertainty: Capturing Dynamic Brand Choice Processes in Turbulent Consumer Goods Markets," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 15(1), pages 1-20.
    7. Gregory S. Crawford & Matthew Shum, 2005. "Uncertainty and Learning in Pharmaceutical Demand," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(4), pages 1137-1173, 07.
    8. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1989. "Imperfect information in the product market," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 13, pages 769-847 Elsevier.
    9. Nelson, Phillip, 1970. "Information and Consumer Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(2), pages 311-29, March-Apr.
    10. Hubbard, Thomas N, 2002. "How Do Consumers Motivate Experts? Reputational Incentives in an Auto Repair Market," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(2), pages 437-68, October.
    11. Heckman, James J, 1991. "Identifying the Hand of the Past: Distinguishing State Dependence from Heterogeneity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 75-79, May.
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